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Peace gesture: Indian pilot Abhinandan returns home

Peace gesture: Indian pilot Abhinandan returns home

Pakistan has released an Indian combat pilot who was captured after his plane was shot down by their military amid a tense stand-off between the nuclear-armed neighbours.

The officials brought the pilot, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, to a border crossing with India for handover after Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made the commitment on Thursday.

India had issued a strongly-worded demarche to Pakistan objecting to the "vulgar display" of the injured pilot and had demanded his immediate and safe return.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Parliament he isn't attending the meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in the UAE capital of Abu Dhabi because UAE's Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan refused to withdraw the invitation to India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj.

"I tried to call Narendra Modi yesterday". The United States and other world powers have urged restraint.

Islamabad has said that the handover was a gesture of peace that could defuse tensions and avoid another war between India and Pakistan.

Indian and Pakistani forces are engaged in a heavy exchange of fire at as many as eight different locations along the Line of Control separating the two countries' forces in Kashmir, multiple informed sources have told Sputnik.

The strike followed a massive suicide bombing that killed 40 Indian troops on February 14, with the attack claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.

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Qureshi also mentioned that the Imran Khan's government has a new mindset, and it aims to end the war in region to foster peace.

There was some firing along the contested border dividing Kashmir on Friday, according to a spokesman for India's defense ministry, but the hostilities were well short of previous days. The region has grappled with a separatist insurgency that has killed at least 70,000 people since the late 1980s.

Maj Gen Ghafoor said that Pakistan fighter jets had carried out "strikes" - exactly what they did remains unclear - in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday.

What have India and Pakistan said?

Observers saw the captured pilot's expected release as a move that could possibly ease tensions with India. "Welcome back Wing Commander Abhinandan. you are our HERO in the truest sense. That's the information I have", he said.

"Our leadership should reciprocate", she tweeted.

"India will only show willingness to engage in talks with Pakistan if Islamabad acts against militants who are operating in Pakistan", retired Maj. It divided the Indian subcontinent into a predominantly Hindu India and mostly Muslim Pakistan. "But it may temporarily defuse tension between the two sides".

It may have been after midnight when the Chennai-Delhi flight came to a stop at the tarmac but there was no scramble to get bags from the overhead bin or rush towards the exit because all eyes were focused on one couple - the parents of IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.